It's been a little over a year since GhostStead was released after a protracted beta. Like most, if not all, startups we've learned a lot in that year about how people want to use our product and what confuses them. Number one on the confusing list is our pricing, so we're fixing that now.
Let's review the goals of the original pricing model. These goals remain the same, we're only changing how we approach them.
Despite our pricing model being a major source of confusion, the main goal was always simplicity. The idea was that once a site reaches a certain level of success then the paid plan kicks in. The problem was how we measured success.
Giving the user time enough to evaluate GhostStead was another major goal. There are a lot of ways out there to build a website - from ultra-modern SSGs to ancient WordPress - and sorting through the options takes time. Certainly more than a standard two-week trial period. We didn't want to rush the evaluation process as that inevitably leads to churn.
On thing we did not want to limit was the number of users a site could have. The key to a successful content strategy is participation. One or two users might be fine for a simple blog, but you can use Ghost for so much more... Every team member should contribute and you should never have to pick and choose who gets a login to be an author.
The lessons learned in the last year are probably worth their own post, but here's a quick summary of what we've learned in regards to pricing.
The pricing model was confusing
How the number of requests was calculated was the #1 source of confusion. What constituted a request? 200 responses? What about 304s? Do images count? etc. What should have been a simple count was way more complicated. To make things worse, the numbers never lined up with other user tools, like Google Analytics.
There has to be a time component
In hindsight, this one probably should have been obvious. We were always going to need an evaluation time. Sometime people choose a different product, or just want to try GhostStead to see what Ghost is all about without having an actual, current use case.
Of course, we want to enable any an all evaluations but we eventually need to clean up abandoned sites. Users simply don't clean up sites, why would they?
After much deliberation, here are the details the new pricing model.
20 Posts for Free
Your site can grow to 20 published posts under the free plan then the $29 per month plan kicks in. You are free to have as many drafts as you like. The number of pages a site has that count against this total is now shown in the GhostStead admin interface.
Only posts that you create count in this total - it excludes the sample pages and posts that come with the free system. Of course, before your site goes live you'll delete the sample pages, but this explains why the GhostStead admin interface shows 0 pages initially.
Both Ghost 'pages' and 'posts' that you create count in this total.
Limit of 90 Days of Inactivity
Any site on the free plan that hasn't been active in over 90 days will be archived. Activity is defined as updating any post or page on the site. Adding a single character, creating a draft post, whatever. Just do anything and save your work. For any site that hasn't been abandoned, this requirement should be a non-issue.
This goal of this requirement is to identify sites that have been truly abandoned and can be cleaned up. Before this happens we'll send you a warning email so that a site archival doesn't take you by surprise.
Paid plans do not have any time limits.
We've learned a lot and we're adapting our pricing based on what we've learned. Hopefully this model allows users to evaluate Ghost and the GhostStead platform, while still allowing us to most effectively use our hosting resources.
Have any feedback on this change? Any suggestions for further improvement? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.